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A Wind Sock
By Cimmerian Willow

Summary- Murdock ponders the paradoxes of BA after a fight.
Rating- G
Warnings- possible sap
Archive- yes
Disclaimer- I don't own these fine characters in any way, shape or
perfect form.

I don't know what caused it, the final trigger. Maybe he'd pulled my jacket one time too many, insulted my intelligence, insensitively berated me for the last time, or maybe it was just years of little annoyances building up. My hand had taken a life of its own, balling into a fist and decking him across the cheekbone as hard as I could. His head rested to the side in its usual manner, only slightly fazed. I wasn't surprised to see he was barely affected by the blow, but I was still disappointed. When you've wanted to do something for years, you have high hopes about the outcome.

He turned to look at me, brown eyes frightfully calm, radiating warning. I steadied myself as I saw his hand curl. I clenched my eyes shut and waited for my jaw to go flying across the room, waited for the searing pain and white flash of unconsciousness. It must have hurt so bad I went numb, cause I never felt the blow.

I cracked an eye, only to see BA's camouflaged back. He was leaving, silently. I didn't feel being struck because I never had been. My temper flared in sudden irritation. He was supposed to hit me back! "BA!" I yelled out his name.

He never paused, lumbering determinedly out the door like a pregnant elephant. Maybe leaving was the only way to restrain himself from tearing me to shreds.

I felt a new gaze burning me.

I turned to see Hannibal and Face standing in the opposite doorway, Face looking concerned and Hannibal impassive, his pale blue eyes scanning me briefly as he evaluated the situation.

"I hit the mudsucker." I confessed shortly, without shame, my eyes daring to challenge them both.

I knew that wasn't true. I already felt guilty, and it was plastered across my mug like the neon sign to a cheap motel. I left the room, bowing my head, suddenly wishing I still had the hair to cover my eyes, hands secured in my pant's pockets, and decided I'd go for a walk.

The cabin Faceman had scammed for us was pleasantly situated in the wilderness, away from the concerns of the everyday rush of the city. It was peaceful here, or at least it was supposed to be. That's what Face kept insisting that it was. The atmosphere hadn't done much to help BA's disposition.

I rested on the front swing, the fake plastic squirrel I'd gleaned from the gravel drive wedged neatly in my arms. I liked the look of it, with its black marble eyes and wrongly colored pink nose. The stain coloring was fading from its body, beaten down by the effects of the elements.

I like things that have suffered through some bad weather, that are familiar in their disrepair. I always have. My jacket, my shirts, my hats. The sky had changed dark blue faster than a chemical reaction. It was going to storm, was already storming, the abrupt gusts almost snatching my cap. I watched the wind sock, the one dangling from the overhang, twitching like a big, bloated worm on a fishing hook. Just like the poor sucker Hannibal had baited this morning. Poor little guy. I can't watch Hannibal fish with live bait.

The wind sock was weather beaten worse than my squirrelly, its once rainbow of color now a sad, dirty gray wash. Taking my pet with me I couldn't help but sigh as I stood up from my spot on the swing. I found him sitting in his room, which was actually our room whenever he felt compelled to let me in. He was sitting in the single recliner, the table pulled in front of him to hold his tools, resting near the window. He glanced at me only a fraction, then disregarded my existence. I was easy to ignore since I was behind him.

"BA?" The question popped off my tongue faster than a snake bite. "Why didn't you break my jaw earlier?" It sounded stupid to ask, like that anyway, and maybe it was. I figured I already knew the answer, or could figure it out if I tried, but I wanted him to spell it out. I didn't feel like analyzing him. I always got it wrong anyway. My squirrel and me were tired of guessing games.

"Everybody knows a fool cain't be held accountable for what he does."

I arched an beleaguered eyebrow at the evasive answer, so very like BA. It dodged all complicated discussion, simplifying the entire ordeal into one imperfect insult. It was his way of saying that I didn't need to apologize, his way of saying the problem was past and forgotten and best left to lay non-addressed forever, rotting away in the closet of omission.

I hated that.

He always evaded anything that required explanation, hoarding his thoughts all to himself. He'd say anything as long as it meant no further discussion. Talking meant sharing, and sharing meant the dropping of barriers. He'd probably even let me hit him again if it ensured a stop to conversation.

I glanced at the machine his was so absorbed in, finally really looking to see what he was doing. It looked like a radio he was fixing. A familiar one, with the glowing green buttons and large dials.

"Is that my radio?" I asked curiously.

"Yeah, I'm fixin it."

My first response was a wave of guilt. I'd punched him and he goes and fixes my radio. Wait a minute...

"It wasn't broken." I protested.

He made no reply and I understood. I guess he had to break at least something of mine, since he couldn't bust my face in good conscious. I stood over his shoulder for a few minutes, watching him work, wondering how he functioned with all those ridiculous rings on. That was BA. He wasn't one for lounging about, wasn't the type of person who sat around thinking about whether the chicken or the egg came first. Why bother wasting effort on ultimately useless, trivial worries? He was a man who liked to do things, use his hands to build and create, a man who liked to keep busy.

At least that's what I used to believe-that he just didn't have anything worth thinking about, that he was too thick skinned to be bothered by the everyday worries and fears and insecurities of the rest of us.

The finer things in life, those that so preoccupied Face, and even Hannibal occasionally, didn't matter much to BA, not usually to me either. But those were superficial concerns. How could I confuse the two for so long?

Me analyzing someone.

Heh. Who more qualified for the job?

The rain was pelting against the window, the roof, sounding like it was trying to beat down the walls and wash us both away. I belatedly realized it was dark in the room and wondered how BA could see to fix my radio. I suddenly didn't want him to. I placed my hand on his shoulder. He tensed immediately, like I'd stabbed him with a pair of scissors, or a needle of Novocain worse yet, but he continued his silent ministrations over the stupid machine in his hand.

Touching was something common between us, but only under rigidly defined circumstances. I had to either be dying, jumping him in jubilation after some traumatic event, or he had to be threatening me with bodily harm. One of three things, and this didn't qualify. It was too close to actual connection without carrying the convenient excuse of some exaggerated circumstance.

I wondered if it would irritate him. I hoped so. He sat there so solemn and detached, like I was some stranger who didn't know him, didn't know his moods and whims, that I felt insulted. After all these years, why should it be so bloody difficult to just verbally wade through a misunderstanding? He should be able to talk to me. Why?

I don't know why.

We come from different planets, he and I. Two sides of a coin, pressed together on a thin sheet of silver, forever facing the opposite direction, heads or tails...and forever watching the other's back. Forever bound that way. At least, *I* didn't see a way out any time soon. The rain was pouring harder, blanketing the window so thickly it was like successive tidal waves crashing. I wondered if the glass window would hold or break.

I glanced at BA, wondering if he would hold...or if I could make him break. I removed my hand, which had been resting undisturbed throughout my reverie. At that he glanced back to me. He looked troubled, possibly annoyed, but mostly confused. Probably because I was just standing there like a scarecrow. That's what he said I looked like once. A gangly scarecrow. I can imagine how I must look to him now, looming over with a muted expression, the lightening flashing across my face.

I grin at that. Catching him off guard always fills me with a perverse satisfaction. Watching him squirm. That's just how it is between us, the major foundation of our friendship is comprised of contradictions.

"Why won't you ever talk to me?"

It wasn't an accusation from me, more like a tired observation. He stood up suddenly, his gold jingling, flashing with the cracks of lightening that lit the room.

"Here." He thrust out the radio to me, which I took cautiously. I automatically flipped the power to it, and it lit up like a miniature UFO in the dark, music blaring through the speakers. He turned from me after seeing his work was complete and reached for something else that was resting on the coffee stand. Something else to fix, no doubt. He took what looked like a toaster and rested it in his lap. He didn't start his tinkering with it, however, watching instead the storm outside the window, howling and tumultuous. Nature was the only thing that was comparable to BA's disposition. Granting blessings or provoking woe, it was all a matter of fickle disposition.

I sat down on the thick arm of the recliner, allowing myself to flop over and lean against his shoulder. He looked at me, face exasperated, but still silent. He turned back to the storm, and I wondered how long I could press his patience, and why I felt the need to.

I tried to remember why we had argued earlier. We never really argued, it was more like short brawls. I couldn't recall the reason and stopped trying, as it was probably something incredibly trivial, like whether cheese or mayonnaise went better with peanut butter. I looked at my squirrel, suddenly deciding to call him Zipper, my mind already plotting where I was going to store him at the VA. Possibly on top of my TV, or on my window ledge where he could still be in the sunlight.

I looked at Zipper.

He looked at me.

We both looked at BA.

He appeared sleepy, his brows strained and just starting to knit, his face deteriorated with the events of the day. Or maybe of a lifetime. Yeah...I've always liked things that were worn by the elements, by years of stormy resistance, things that were dependable and familiar in their disrepair.

I sat there clutching Zipper, BA clutching his broken mechanical doll. We watched the rain.

I shook my head. One day I'd get under that skin like a bad case of scabies, and I'd find out all those illusive fears. Pull them out like the effects of cheap whiskey.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, before the coloring fades too far, before the framework buckles, before vision washes out to one dirty hue of white, before finally being shredded in the harsh wind, everyone has to come in for solace from the world outside.

Even BA.




Windsock by Cimmerian Willow